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Catherine, Princess Of Wales, Reveals Cancer Diagnosis; At Least 40 Killed In Attack Inside Concert Hall Near Moscow. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired March 22, 2024 - 15:00   ET




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: And welcome back. We are following major breaking news this afternoon. Catherine, Princess of Wales, just revealing that she has been diagnosed with cancer and that she is in the early stages of treatment. The 42-year-old just shared her diagnosis in a video message that lasts about two minutes. I want to show that to you now.


CATHERINE, PRINCESS OF WALES: I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you, personally, for all the wonderful messages of support and for your understanding whilst I've been recovering from surgery.

It has been an incredibly tough couple of months for our entire family, but I've had a fantastic medical team who've taken great care of me, for which I am so grateful.

In January, I underwent major abdominal surgery in London and at the time, it was thought that my condition was non-cancerous. The surgery was successful.

However, tests after the operation found cancer had been present. My medical team therefore advised that I should undergo a course of preventative chemotherapy and I'm now in the early stages of that treatment.

This, of course, came as a huge shock, and William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family. As you can imagine, this has taken time.

It has taken me time to recover from major surgery in order to start my treatment. But, most importantly, it has taken us time to explain everything to George, Charlotte and Louis in a way that is appropriate for them, and to reassure them that I am going to be okay.

As I have said to them; I am well and getting stronger every day by focusing on the things that will help me heal; in my mind, body and spirits. Having William by my side is a great source of comfort and reassurance too. As is the love, support and kindness that has been shown by so many of you. It means so much to us both.

We hope that you will understand that, as a family, we now need some time, space and privacy while I complete my treatment.

My work has always brought me a deep sense of joy and I look forward to being back when I am able, but for now I must focus on making a full recovery.

At this time, I am also thinking of all those whose lives have been affected by cancer. For everyone facing this disease, in whatever form, please do not lose faith or hope. You are not alone.


COOPER: "You are not alone."

I want to go right to CNN's Royal Correspondent Max Foster.

Max, I know you've been hearing more over the course of this hour. What is the latest?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, you watch that video, this is a big thing for anyone to do. But Kate isn't always comfortable in the cameras doing things like that. And that was a big step for her and very powerful. And she would have made that decision, she would have had to sign off on it. I want to do it in this way. I want to do it on my own. I don't need Prince William in this. I need to own this.

So I think that would have taken a lot of building up to it, another explanation for why we haven't seen much of her recently. But we've just heard from Buckingham Palace, a spokesman just sent me a note about the King - from the King.

So His Majesty is so proud of Catherine for her courage in speaking, as she did. Following her time in hospital together, His Majesty has remained in the closest contact with his beloved daughter-in-law throughout the past weeks. Both their majesties will continue to offer their love and support to the whole family through this difficult time.

I think it was quite a unique experience, wasn't it, for Kate and Charles to be in hospital together and having pretty similar experiences, going in for one procedure and coming out with a completely different diagnosis. But he's very much - looking at that video she put out today and really paying tribute to her and the way she speaks of the children. And clearly he feels that she's getting all of her priorities right there, Anderson.

COOPER: Max, it's so interesting, there has been so much, obviously, consternation and conspiracy theories about Catherine over the last two weeks or more. It's in a moment like this when you really see this family that so many people see from afar and see on balconies and riding around in carriages at big celebrations, you see them very much as human and very much as mortal.


And she is a young woman sitting on this bench telling the world this extremely personal diagnosis.

FOSTER: Yes, I mean, I think this is part of the shock, isn't it? Because you do realize they are vulnerable like everyone else, but they're projected as this brand which is sort of invincible in a way. It's been around for a thousand years and we're so used to the Queen being around for so long. And shortly after the King takes the throne, we found out he's got cancer.

And the thing about Kate is she's this vision of vibrancy. She's very sporty. She's very energetic. She's very dutiful. She's a fantastic mom from everything that I've seen, really hands-on. And it's - I think it's a shock.

When the - when we heard the Queen was ill, that was a shock, even though she was so old. But it's just - this vulnerability, someone that's in your life, you don't know them personally, but they've been part of your life for so long and they might not be there. And then you kind of figure out, what if Charles and Kate weren't there. It's that sort of processing.

So I think it is very personal for a lot of people. And as Kate spoke to in her video, I think about other people who've suffered from cancer. This is something I really saw when the Queen died, that people connected with that moment because through - people who've died in their own lives. And I think people now will be thinking of people who've suffered from cancer in their own lives.

And looking at Kate as someone that's vulnerable to that, someone you wouldn't expect to be vulnerable to any sort of illness. It's just this vision of vibrancy. So I mean, less said as far as I'm concerned about the distasteful, like upsetting conspiracy theories that boiled up in recent times, they now have the reason for why we didn't see them.

Interesting that pretty much the only thing I didn't see online in recent weeks was speculation that she could have cancer. But I think everyone needs to step back a bit and really think about not just what they're putting online, what they're consuming online and just sticking to the facts.

On CNN, we've had lots of discussions about this. We want people to get the facts. And it's an incredibly hard story to tell because there have been so few facts. But now we know why we weren't being given information. I think it's understandable that you'd want to protect your kids, frankly.

COOPER: This is also an opportunity, as we saw when the King - King Charles - was public, which is, again, very rare for a king to give a medical diagnosis and make it public. But when he talked about prostate cancer, the numbers of people going in for testing, for checkups went up dramatically in the United Kingdom. This may also have a similar effect or people be more aware of forms of abdominal cancer. With that in mind, Max, I want to bring back in Dr. Otis Brawley, a professor of oncology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Brawley, I'm sorry we were interrupted before, we had breaking news out of Russia. But I just want to continue the conversation because, again, the palace is not saying what form of cancer this is. But it was - in Catherine's words - major abdominal surgery. And that after, according to her, after the surgery, doctors discovered this cancer and chemotherapy started in late February.

Just for people - I talked to a doctor in the last hour who was talking about colorectal cancer and how now the recommended age for having tests done for anybody, checkups done for anybody on that has been lowered. Can you just talk about the forms of - I mean, what - potentially what kind of abdominal cancers there are and when should people have something checked out?

DR. OTIS BRAWLEY, PROFESSOR OF ONCOLOGY & EPIDEMIOLOGY, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Sure. And I - in full disclosure - was a co-author of the American Cancer Society guideline that recommended that people start screening at 45 instead of 50.

COOPER: That's for colorectal cancer.

BRAWLEY: For colorectal cancer, yes. And ...

COOPER: And why lower the age and why is the level of - or the incidences of colorectal cancer in young people, why is that rising? And again, we don't know that it's colorectal cancer, but that is one form of possibility.

BRAWLEY: Yes, we should go through the cancers if we have time. And in the 1990s, 10 percent of all colorectal cancers diagnosed and 10 percent of all people who were dying of colorectal cancer were diagnosed before the age of 50. Today, it's 20 percent. It's doubled over the last 25 to 30 years.

And it probably has to do with increasing patterns of obesity in the United States, less exercise, we're eating more processed foods, may have to do with increasing use of antibiotics. We don't know all the reasons, but we do know that there's an increase among people under the age of 50.


While I say that, I also need to say that we know colorectal cancer screening, be it stool, blood testing, stool DNA or colonoscopy saves lives. And we know that 40 plus percent of people over 50 don't get those screening tests. So let's encourage them ...

COOPER: So just - to put a button on that, anybody out there above the age of - around the age of 45 you're saying should get tested?

BRAWLEY: That's right. If they have a family history, they need to talk to the doctor and perhaps do it even earlier and ...

COOPER: What ...

BRAWLEY: ... there's a lot of lives lost because people are not getting screened.

COOPER: And were - are there other forms of cancer that in - around the abdomen that people should be tested for?

BRAWLEY: Well, the major one is colorectal cancer, ovarian cancer and we may be dealing with ovarian cancer here. We don't have good screening tests for it. But women who have abdominal pain and abdominal difficulties, most people who have those problems will not have cancer, but they need to have a good conversation with their doctor so we can find the few who actually do.

I don't want to scare all women who have a little bit of gas pains or a little bit of lower abdominal discomfort. Most of that is not cancer, but a small number will have ovarian cancer. And the only way to figure it out is to go talk to a doctor and work with a doctor to get it diagnosed.

COOPER: And is that something that - both ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer, is that something that runs - I mean, you mentioned that it may run in families with colorectal cancer. Is it something that runs in families with ovarian cancer as well?

BRAWLEY: Yes. Yes, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer can - both can run in people's families. With endometrial cancer, women may very well have abnormal menstrual bleeding as a sign. Again, this is reason not to panic because most of these people will not have cancer, but it is reason to go to a doctor and have a good conversation and possibly some testing.

COOPER: And again, we're limited because we don't know what form of cancer this is or the stage it may be. But in terms of chemotherapy, if chemotherapy is now a course of treatment, is there any sense of how difficult that may be, what length of time that kind of a treatment may last for?

BRAWLEY: Yes. By the way, in ovarian cancer and colorectal cancer, we very frequently will do surgery and then afterwards we will give chemotherapy. The regimens are different, but the chemotherapy for - for example - ovarian cancer is several drugs that are given every three weeks, six times. And then we try to go back and look and see if there's any evidence of disease that might be present.

Again, I stress these are chemotherapies that are given to people who have had surgery and after surgery have no evidence of disease, but they fit into a category in terms of the disease that they have, that there may be some disease present that the doctors just can't find. And so we will give the chemotherapy.

In colon cancer, it's given over a period of about six months. In ovarian cancer, it's given over a slightly shorter period of time. And I must stress that there are a number of people who get these therapies and do very well.

COOPER: Dr. Otis Brawley, I so appreciate your expertise and your time. Thank you very much.

I want to bring in our ...

BRAWLEY: Thank you, sir.

COOPER: ... I want to bring in our Julia Chatterley, who's here with me. Such a - just a sad turn in this. And obviously, I mean, people around the world are going to be watching and praying for Catherine.

JULIA CHATTERLEY, CNN ANCHOR, FIRST MOVE: It was heartbreaking to hear. It was also painful to watch, I think. But for me, the strength that she showed, as Max was saying, the decision to present what was going on in this manner to be on her own, because Prince William could have been next to her supporting her and she chose to do it on her own. She somehow managed to combine regal with vulnerable in a way that she does so well.

COOPER: And very human - and just as human ...



CHATTERLEY: I think for anybody watching, and I know you showed that video, that moment when she described the huge shock. And we know when you're nervous and your throat goes and your voice goes, and the moment she took that inhalation to say it, she was controlling her motions in that video.

So I find it quite emotional to watch the strength that she showed there. But also, and I think this explains a lot of what has been speculated over, what we've discussed in the past few weeks is that the children came first.


They were in school. She chose not clearly to take them out of school in some way and to keep their lives as regular as they could throughout this process. And now they've broken up for holiday and they can deal with it themselves. This will send and has sent a sort of global bombshell around the world. Now the kids don't have to face the questions because we know what children are like, they can ask tough questions.

COOPER: Well, also, I mean, it - again, it's also just a reminder of the - just the kind of humanness of their existence that they're worried about what other kids in school will be saying to their children in school.


COOPER: They're in school ... CHATTERLEY: They're very normal. It's a fairy tale family in so many ways. They're a royal family. She's so regal. She's so perfect. But in the end, they are five people and there are three very vulnerable children in this and they pick their time, I think, very carefully. I think what's also so deeply heartbreaking about this is, as Max has said, what they've been through with all the wild speculation and the sort of traumas and the criticism and the photographs and things.

And actually what it was, was a woman dealing with what is clearly traumatic surgery and now recovery and then chemotherapy. I mean, for anybody and it's most of us whose lives have been touched in some way by cancer, what this very royal but also very human family is going through is a big challenge. And they need the space now, as she asked for.


CHATTERLEY: But I will say one more thing, again, coming back to being a princess at the end where she said - and you repeated the line, "You're not alone." If you're out there also suffering with cancer, you're not alone. A princess to the beginning and the end there, I think.

COOPER: Yes, well said. We're going to take a short break and our coverage continues in a moment.



COOPER: We'll have more on the announcement from Princess Kate about her cancer, but we're also following breaking news out of Moscow, Russia reports of a mass shooting at a concert hall with at least 40 people dead. The hall now engulfed in flames. You see the images there. It is unclear whether more victims or potentially shooters are inside.

What we do know is that CNN has geolocated a video showing four armed attackers opening fire inside a shopping center just outside the concert hall.

This is a screen grab from that video. We're not showing you the entire video, just off screen is the moment a group of civilians can be seen huddling together as the men fire at them. A number of them fall to the ground. Then attackers can then be seen shooting out the glass doors to the hall and moving inside.

Now, in a separate video recorded inside the hall, you can also hear the sound of gunfire.

Our Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Matthew Chance joins us now live from London.

Matthew, you were just in Russia earlier this week. What are you hearing about this situation now? MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOGBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, I only came out yesterday, so it's astonishing to look at these dramatic images and see the chaos and the bloodshed that's unfolding. It really - I mean, it's not in Moscow City itself, it's just on the outskirts of the city. So formally, it's in the Moscow region, but it's very close to Moscow. It's a major sort of conference center and shopping center and concert hall as well. The Crocus City mall, it's called.

And you can see the scenes of chaos there, the billowing smoke above that building, according to Russian state television, the roof of the building has collapsed as a result of fire and explosions that were heard earlier inside. You see those images there of an auditorium, because it was during or as a concert of a Soviet era band called Picnic was about to start. And so a lot of people have gathered in that concert hall to watch them play, but the attack took place, as you say.

We're looking at approximately four people that we can see on video that have been carrying out this attack, firing automatic weapons towards people. There have been explosions in the area as well. There are lots of ambulances. Dozens of ambulances have been sent by the local authorities. I think the figure I read was at least 50, possibly more ambulances being sent there.

And that gives you an indication of the concerns the authorities have about the casualties. We're talking about preliminary figures of, according to the TASS news agency, which is the state news agency. I think you mentioned it already, 40 people - 40 confirmed dead. And obviously, this situation is still ongoing by the sounds of it. We don't know whether the attackers have been killed, whether they've been neutralized in some other way. And we don't know how many people are still trapped inside what looks like a burning concert hall on the outskirts of Moscow, Anderson.

COOPER: I mean, Matthew, I - maybe I'm dating myself, the only time I can recall anything similar like this in Moscow was 2002, when I think some 50 Chechen separatists took over a theater. The - I think it was the Dubrovka Theater - and that went on for several days. And finally, the Spetsnaz, the Russian special forces, gassed the entire theater, killing more than a hundred. There were about 850 hostages, I think, inside.

Is there - I mean ...

CHANCE: That's right.

COOPER: ... do something like this - has this - anything like this happened in recent times?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, you're right. I mean, I was actually at that theater, the Dubrovka Theater, the Nord-Ost siege it was called, when that storming of the theater took place by Russian special forces.

[15:25:09] And obviously there are parallels. I mean, look at that auditorium. It's a very similar auditorium back in 2002, where the Chechen militants took those hostages, 850 hostages before the place was steamed. Everyone was sort of put to sleep with a gas, a sort of undisclosed substance, which ended up killing quite a lot of people because the doctors outside didn't have the anecdote to it.

And so that was sort of like a sort of fumbled, mishandled operation to end the siege. At the moment, it's not clear whether there are hostages inside this or what the situation is inside. But look, you're right, it was Chechens that carried out that 2002 attack on the on the Dubrovka Theater inside Moscow. Russia has a long history of problems with terrorism from the North Caucasus, from Chechnya, from Ingushetia, from places like that.

And I know that within the past few weeks, Russian special forces have been carrying out raids against Islamists, Islamic militants inside Ingushetia, which is a Russian republic very close to Chechnya. It may well be linked with that. It's not clear.

If it's anything other than Chechen separatists, though, or Islamists from inside Russia, I think it will be a very new departure. For instance, if this has anything to do with Ukraine and there's no indication at this stage that it is. But if it is, I mean, that would obviously be a very new sort of situation that we haven't seen before inside Russia.

So at the moment, the authorities are not drawing any conclusions, not making any conclusions. They're saying a criminal investigation has been started, but they haven't named yet who they believe is responsible for this.

COOPER: So at this point, we don't know if this is still - if - we don't know if - I mean, I always think in these situations, it's good to point out what we don't know. We've seen a video with four gunmen. We don't know if there are more than four. We don't know if this is still ongoing. The status of the people inside the building. There's a report the roof has collapsed, but we don't know whether this attack is still underway.

CHANCE: That - it's right. I mean, that's right. We - there's an awful lot we don't know, including all of those things you just listed. I mean, look, looking at these images, though, you can see there's a fire still underway and there's images coming in on social media all the time, which we've all been sort of sort of looking at some of them absolutely horrific, which we couldn't possibly broadcast.

But it does indicate that this situation is not yet under control. I'm certain that the Russian authorities are keen to bring it under control. And so as soon as it is under control, we'll get an announcement on that. Yes, we're looking at gunmen. You can see that still photograph of three of them there. There was - in that video, there's another gunman as well. So there's at least four people who are involved, because there's some - I've seen some reports that it was more than that, but these are not confirmed facts at this stage. But you can see the security operation, the emergency response from those images. Look how many blue flashing lights there are. This is a major incident, not in the center of Moscow, it's true. Twenty miles or so from the center of Moscow. But still a major incident affecting the Russian capital.

COOPER: Matthew, I want to bring in Julia Ioffe, who is a founding partner and Washington correspondent for Puck.

Julia, you were born in Russia. I want to talk about the significance of an attack like this at this juncture. What do you make of what we are seeing?

JULIA IOFFE, FOUNDING PARTNER & WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, PUCK: Well, it's stunning because it's less than a week, just a few days after Putin's "election" to his fifth term, in which he got 87 percent of the vote, showed everybody that he is here to stay, that he is the czar of Russia. He's not going anywhere.

And part of his message has always been something like Bibi Netanyahu's, that he is the only one who can provide for Russian security, both as a country and as a people. And the fact that this - something like this happens immediately after his election is - blows that myth right up.

COOPER: In terms of the - I mean, we - again, we don't know who is responsible for this or what this exact status of it is now. Certainly, it's not - I mean, the - again, I come back to that 2002 attack, this is the only - I don't - do you know or have there been other kind of large scale attacks like that of a hostage taking in any kind of complexes?

IOFFE: Oh, yes, there have been many, many attacks in Russia proper, including in Moscow. In the, basically, the first decade or so of Putin's reign, even while I lived in Russia, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in the Moscow Metro and killed a few dozen people.


Russia used to be plagued with terrorism ...

COOPER: I mean, in recent times, I mean, the last 10 years or so.